Archive for the 'Events' Category

Music for the Soul

July 10th, 2015 | posted by Deborah Choate

It is a treasure, conjuring the purest of sentiments and eliciting the truest and deepest forms of emotion: music. Infinitely provoking and universally compelling, spanning cultures and generations, music is widely enjoyed by all who encounters it. It brings peace to the soul, light to our lives.

Coutan's singular vision is both classical and naturalistic in style

Coutan’s singular vision is both classical and naturalistic in style

Throughout the history of art, artists have sought to join the universal experience of music with the visual arts. One such artist was French sculptor Jules-Felix Coutan, who sought to enhance the public’s interaction with beautiful music through his remarkable sculptural works. His bronze work, Music (1880), in particular, truly exemplifies Coutan’s unique approach. In his characteristic naturalistic style that nods back to Classical taste, Coutan captures the personification of music itself. A striking ninety-two inches compromises this exquisite bronze sculpture of an elegant female figure, torch in one hand and instrument in the other. Graceful in proportion and fluidity, Coutan successfully evokes the essence and spirit of music. Earning international reputation, the works of Coutan are highly revered, and his style left a lasting impression on students following him.

The taking of snuff was a highly regarded social ritual among the European elite

The taking of snuff was a highly regarded social ritual among the European elite

Small, yet powerful, music can also be found in exquisite objets d’art such as this Swiss musical snuff box. Also called “carillons à musique,” these small, portable music boxes were highly coveted among European elite and often served as a sign of status and prestige. Crafted in 1820, this intricately decorated box is covered in ornate gold foliate that speaks to the swirling musical tones that the box creates when opened. This rare objet d’art would have easily fit in a gentleman’s waist pocket.

The box plays 15 1/2” disks and retains the incredible sound quality for which Regina was celebrated

The box plays 15 1/2” disks and retains the incredible sound quality for which Regina was celebrated

 

More monumental in size are the upright music boxes that pre-dated the modern day jukebox. The Regina Music Box Company of New York was one of the foremost successful and creative artistic producers of these mechanically-complex music machines. Carved in all over incredible detail, this Regina oak music box would have served as a pleasant alternative to live music in a home or business. In peaceful melodies, this music box plays up to 15½” discs with the incredible sound quality for which the Regina Company is known. Completing the piece is an exquisite lithograph of the company’s namesake, Regina, under the lid, venerating her as the “Queen of Music.” Set on a beautiful table to complete a room, this statement making rare music box is truly one of a kind.

 

This Art Deco period Orchestrion dates to the very first years of Arburo operations, circa 1928-29

This Art Deco period Orchestrion dates to the very first years of Arburo operations, circa 1928-29

Much larger, though equally inspiring, is the Arburo Orchestrion Organ by Bursens and Roels. Crafted entirely by hand, this Art Deco-style cabinet was once a common fixture in popular, bustling dance halls. Exhibited at the Arburo Centennial Exhibition in 2008, this hand-crafted, made to order piece is unlike any other – no two were ever alike. What is most interesting and unique about this piece, however, is that it incorporates the beauty of stand-alone instruments with the fascinating realm of mechanics. A 168-pipe organ, triangle, drums, and accordion are included within the mechanical system. Once started, electrical power reads perforated music rolls which are then read to control each instrument inside. The organ allowed the musical volume to be clear and loud enough for even the most lively, busy venues. The music produced is extraordinary, a delight to one’s ears. Today, very few examples of these musical marvels exist, especially in the exceptional working condition of this Orchestrion.

An Age of Transformation: Women in Nineteenth Century Art

March 26th, 2015 | posted by Bill Rau
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George Morren, Le Renouveau (The Renewal), Circa 1892

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Jéan-Leon Gérôme, Leda and the Swan, Circa 1895

This is the second of a three part series of blog posts preceding our exhibition Innocence, Temptation and Power: The Evolution of Women in Art, on view at M.S. Rau Antiques from March 27 – May 4.

From the mid-nineteenth century, Western Europe and the United States were witness to an extraordinary cultural and social upheaval. Truly a period of transformation, the end of the 19th century can be characterized also as an era of contradiction. As the great generation of French academic painters such as Jean-Léon Gérôme, with their idealized female figures and neoclassical subjects, slowly waned, a new group of radical young artists began to emerge who devoted their oeuvres to a new ideal of modernity. The Impressionists unapologetically painted their impressions of their modern bourgeoisie world, including the women within it, which was undergoing a rapid period of revolution.

While, in many instances, women still found themselves regarded as secondary citizens, it was the onset of industrialization and the corresponding growth of the middle class that began to expand the role of women in society. This provided ample inspiration for late 19th century artists, who themselves contemplated “the woman question” and the changing views of womanhood, femininity and what it meant to be a woman. Henri Toulouse-Lautrec’s La Promeneuse perfectly illustrates the Impressionist treatment of middle-class women during the Belle Epoqué – women who embody a new, avant-garde femininity without being idealized.

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Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, La Promeneuse, Circa 1892

Indeed, traditional aestheticideals in general began to give way to a more revolutionary, individual artistic voice. In the same way, depictions of women in art slowly began to transform from object to subject in the eyes of the artist and the viewer, and the barrier between the private and public gradually began to descend. Yet, despite these advances, women were still expected to be the upholders of morality and put domestic and home responsibilities central in their lives. George Morren’s Le Renouveau (The Renewal) perfectly illustrates this juxtaposition. Depicting a wet-nurse breastfeeding a child, Morren places his female subject within a traditional “maternal” position, but also, more significantly, within a work scene. The “mother” in the scene is feeding the child not out of “natural” nurturing instinct but for wages, as a member of a flourishing industry. Both mother figure and worker, Morren’s wet-nurse epitomizes the updated, secularized Impressionist woman

Undeniably, as the Impressionists begin to capture their own lived experiences of everyday life, the range and treatment of women as a subject in art similarly expanded, offering viewers a glimpse of the lived experience of the late 19th century woman through the Impressionist canvas. Themes of bourgeois leisure, bohemian spectacle, urban culture, and intimate spaces dominate the genre moving into the 20th century – subjects that will only continue to expand into the modern era.

To learn more about the story of women in art, please join us for Innocence, Temptation and Power: The Evolution of Women in Art, on view at M.S. Rau Antiques from March 27 – May 4.

Innocence, Temptation, and Power: The Evolution of Women in Art

February 16th, 2015 | posted by Sue Loustalot
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Giovanni dal Ponte, Madonna and Child, Circa 1420

A mystifying creature with the ability to nurture, seduce, create and conquer, women have served as an endless source of inspiration for history’s  most iconic artists, representing archetypes of ideal beauty, model behavior, and the ultimate temptation. These canvases invite viewers to peel back their many layers, each telling a different story about the woman it depicts, the artist who painted her, and the times in which they lived. At times empowering and others objectifying, these images offer a visual narrative of the evolution of women’s roles throughout history.  The story begins here with one of the most recognizable images of woman: the Madonna.

Arguably one of the most widely depicted women in the history of art is the Virgin Mary, a woman who has bore numerous roles over the centuries. Traditionally represented as the Madonna figure, as in Giovanni dal Ponte’s early 15th century work, she stands as the pinnacle of motherhood, womanhood and religious devotion. At a time when the Church was the largest patron of the arts, representations of women in art served primarily as allegories for religious virtue, and these images would perpetuate the Christian ideal of womanhood for centuries to come.

 

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Portrait of Mary Townshend by Sir Joshua Reynolds

 

 

 

 

Along with virtue, innocence and beauty remain constants in the representation of ideal womanhood throughout the history of art. Even after the Church rescinded its role as major patron of the arts to the aristocracy, the model of the virtuous woman would remain consistent, particularly in portraits of the aristocracy. Rather than religious subjects, 18th-century portraitists turned their focus to social roles, which, for women, were largely dictated by their fathers and husbands. The elegance of a woman, both in art and in life, served as an affirmation of the status of her family, and an opulent, well-executed portrait stood as a demonstration of wealth and status.

This notion is clearly seen in the elegant portrait of Mary Townshend by the legendary Sir Joshua Reynolds. Rendered with an air of quiet dignity, the work provides a glimpse into 18th-century London society through the figure of Mary. While the viewer garners no real sense of her character through the work, the family’s wealth is very much on display in her opulent clothing, and the pearls that she clutches are a testament to her virginal innocence. Considered little more than a possession herself, the figure of Mary, in her virtue and beauty, serves as a visual symbol of the status of the Townsends.

Portraits of the upper class such as this expose a high culture that was defined by the Church and the male aristocracy, who largely ascribed qualities such as truth, innocence, morality and virtue to the ideal of womanhood. It would take another century before women were considered in a new light by artists and society alike, with the roots of women’s suffrage towards the end of the 18th-century signifying tremendous changes ahead.

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Jan van Kessel the Elder, Allegory of Europe, Circa 1670

To learn more about the story of women in art, please join us for Innocence, Temptation and Power: The Evolution of Women in Art, on view at M.S. Rau Antiques from March 27 – May 4.

We Simply Cannot Contain Ourselves!

May 10th, 2013 | posted by Lyndon Lasiter

Container 1This has been an exciting week at M.S. Rau Antiques. Every spring we receive a shipment from our latest buying trip in Europe, which sent us to the very best estates and collections to find the rarest and most fascinating antiques and fine art available on the market. After a whirlwind buying excursion, all the objects are carefully packed for freight and then sent to New Orleans on a ship. With great anticipation, we await the delivery of our container, and once it clears customs, the fun begins.

The staff gathers before the gallery opens and unpacks the container’s boxes, which provides the first glimpse for many of us of our newest acquisitions. This year’s first container held a trove of fascinating objects – from a majestic onyx and doré bronze clock to a gleaming art deco bar. Although the newly acquired items have not been through our research and photography departments, I have a few pieces I would love to share with you.

We have had many desks over our 101 year history, but a Thomas Chippendale desk we just bought really captivates in both size and design. The desk is a stunning example of Chippendale’s late Container 218th century aesthetic, with demure neoclassical design and excellent detailed workmanship unique to Thomas Chippendale pieces. Crafted of lavish mahogany and doré bronze fittings, this desk possesses an outstanding patina that intrigues with its evident use by a dedicated businessman.

Container 4A very heavy and very secure crate contained an impressive early 17th century safe. With a robust design, and clever locking mechanism, our newly acquired Italian safe would have provided the utmost safety in storing precious documents and possessions. Three locks on the front of the safe require three separate keys and three different turning methods to gain entry to the interior. An additional lock inside provides extra security. The back of the safe allows for wall mounting, further securing this monumental, 400 year old safe.

Dozens of other pieces accompanied the above treasures. We can’t wait to share with you all the newly acquired items, and we will be sending an email in a few weeks showing you even more. Better, yet, why not come down to the gallery on Royal street to see them for yourself?

M.S. Rau Antiques To Exhibit Important Impressionist Paintings November 16, 2012 – January 4, 2013, To Top Off Its Centennial Year

July 11th, 2012 | posted by Bill Rau

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paysage de Bretagne, oil on canvas, circa 1892

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paysage de Bretagne, oil on canvas, circa 1892

Celebrating one hundred years as one of America’s oldest and largest art and antique dealers, M.S. Rau Antiques will mark the end of its centennial with a specially curated exhibit of significant Impressionist paintings, presented alongside the masters who paved the way to the revolutionary movement as well as the innovators who carried the Impressionist ideals into the 20th century. This remarkable collection includes paintings spanning the pre-Impressionist and Impressionist movements with works by Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Vincent van Gogh and Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot, works owned by M.S. Rau as well as works on loan. The paintings will be on display in M.S. Rau’s exhibition gallery from November 16th this year to January 4th, 2013, in the historic French Quarter in New Orleans at 630 Royal Street. The gallery is open to the public Monday to Saturday, 9:15am to 5:00pm. Admission to the exhibition is free. www.rauantiques.com

Vincent van Gogh, Still Life with Two Sacks and a Bottle, oil on canvas, circa 1884-1885

Vincent van Gogh, Still Life with Two Sacks and a Bottle, circa 1884-1885

Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s Paysage, Arbres et Lande au Fonde in 1892. This landscape with trees and a moor is a brilliant example of Renoir’s iconic style. The development of his lush brushstroke, carefully conjured atmosphere and scintillating palette of color was a result of his early landscapes such as this one. Renoir, like other painters of his era, was inspired by the lush, scenic peninsula in northwestern France where this was painted.

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, L’entrée du Chemin Creux, oil on canvas

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, L’entrée du Chemin Creux, oil on canvas

Vincent van Gogh’s Still Life with Two Sacks and a Bottle (1884) is canvas on a panel. It is one of a series he painted in his somber still life phase. As a post impressionist, van Gogh used intensely contrasting colors against a dark background, transforming the technical exercise of still life painting into a dynamic study of form and color characteristic of the Post Impressionist movement. Such drama emphasized his emotional turmoil at the time over the recent loss of his father and potentially foreshadows mental instability that would plague him so severely later in life.

Jean Baptiste Camille Corot painted L’Entrée de Chemin Creux between the years of 1870-1875. Claude Monet referred to Corot as a master of Impressionism. His techniques of painting landscapes “en plein air” (outside of a studio) were significant in the transition between classical and Impressionist styles, capturing light, natural beauty and classical elements with great ease on canvas. This particular canvas illustrates an exceptional depth of realism. Among his contemporary admirers were Courbet and Berte Morisot.

In addition to the significant works of art which will be part of this exhibition, MS Rau Antiques has an inventory of museum-quality antiques and estate jewelry for sale and for viewing at its gallery. Visitors and collectors are welcome to browse and ask questions of the knowledgeable staff.

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